Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Why I Continue to Be Mormon

There are things about me that are imprinted on my soul.  They are irrevocable and irreversible.  They will always be a part of me and I will always embrace them.

For me, being Mormon is not one of those things.

I choose to be mormon.  Some days, it's a harder choice than on others.  But let's be clear--it is not an indisputable part of my character.  It is a choice that I make.

Perhaps this is an odd proclamation to make.  Afterall, there aren't exactly scores of people out there dying to know why I choose mormonism.  For most everyone I know, I imagine they consider just a part of who I am.  And it is quite possible that the people who do question my commitment to my faith are those who share my faith.

If you know me at all, you know that I have a lot of misgivings about some things in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  There are policies and cultural constructs that I simply do not agree with.  In recent years, I've gradually become more outspoken with my dissent, but have generally avoided laying it out formally.  I've rarely attached my name to it.  Recently, I've decided that I need to step out from under the cloak of anonymity.  From now on, I am going to speak honestly and candidly about what I believe, especially within the circle of mormonism.

Undoubtedly, this will be rough for some people.  Criticizing a person's religious choices usually causes pain (what would be the point of religious conviction if it didn't).  But when religious choices get criticized by someone inside the faith, that pain comes with a sense of betrayal.  Causing hurt and offense is not my goal (although it may be an inevitable side effect of the things I say).  My goal is to be heard.  My goal is to be understood.  My goal is to help others see that when they question my Christianity because of my political views, I'm as offended as they are by my politicial views; to help others see that when they criticize my commitment to the LDS Church because I disagree with the way it has structured its scouting program, I find that as cutting a wound as they find my disagreement.  My hope is that those people who tell me that--because I think women should have a more active and prominent role in church leadership--I should find the door and leave will understand that their directive is as painful to me as my beliefs are to them.  I want these people to see me not as an enemy to their faith, as a fellow traveler of faith in a world of uncertainty.

In return, perhaps I can learn to be a little less abrasive in my presentation.

So, here I am, preparing myself to be open about my minority views in the LDS church (the name Uncommon Dissent is a shameless perversion of the title of one of my favorite LDS blogs, but I think it captures very well the essence of how I feel as I take on this task).  It seemed appropriate to start with an explanation of why I continue to be mormon.  The simple answer is this:

I believe it is true.

The long answer is that I remember how I felt one day in seminary when we studied the atonement, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I remember how I sobbed in sadness at the depiction of His death.  I remember how I bawled even harder in the joy I felt from the depictions of His resurrection.  I remember being bowled over by those same emotions more than a year later when I studied the life of Joseph Smith.

I remember being overwhelmed with a divine joy when I listened to a Ukrainian woman tell me the dream that led her to baptism, and feeling that same joy when she was baptized.  I remember laying my hands on people's heads and watching them be healed of their infirmities.

Most of all, I remember the way I feel when I truly prepare myself to receive the sacrament (something I don't do well enough often enough).

By the way, those are things that are imprinted on my soul.

So I haven't left the church (though I've definitely considered it a couple of times) because I believe this is the church of Jesus Christ (yes, I said believe.  Not know.  But that's a topic for a different day).  Keep that in mind as I write more in the future.  I'm about to express my faith.  I'm also about to express my misgivings, my doubts, and my fears.  Most importantly, I'm going to express me.  It might just be the best window you'll ever get into who I am.

1 comment:

  1. Ben,
    You have played a huge part in my life, whether or not you realize it. It has been a while since we have had a good conversation and I look forward to following this blog of yours. Say "yes" to Jesus!